Brandon Johnson played the lead role of Julian in Stevan Mena's 'MALEVOLENCE'; which hits DVD on April 19th, 2005 courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. After following this film for a while, we knew we had to have a chat with Brandon about his experiences making what we consider a great throw-back to classic 80's slasher horror. We talked to him about the long shoot on 'MALEVOLENCE', what is was like to film a feature on location in Guatemala, and uncovered that he'll always be a drummer at heart. Here we go! - by Robg. 4/05
Are you a fan of the horror genre in general? What are you're earliest recollections?
My favorite thing about horror is facing the fear. It's like riding a rollercoaster. The thrill comes from the payoff of going through the fear. I suppose that's a motto for life. My earliest recollections stem from 'Halloween', 'A Nightmare On Elm Street', 'Friday the 13th', 'The Exorcist', 'Magic', 'The Amityville Horror', 'The Thing' and 'Poltergeist'. I find the psychological films have the greatest affect on me.
Christ, we were making 'Jackass' back when I was 15. We used to make bombs and blow a lot of shit up. I had a beat up '71 Oldsmobile which we used to destroy garbage cans on every block - we'd film the whole thing. I'd tear up lawns, do brake stands everywhere, a lot of fire, etc... Anyways, you get the idea. It wasn't until I got into college that I actually started studying the craft full time.
What were your initial responses to the script?
Considering 'Malevolence' is considered the middle part of an intended trilogy, did Stevan give you any info on the backstory for your character to help with how you approached the role?
None at all. It was up to us as to how we wanted to develop our characters. Steve guided us at moments, but also gave us freedom to experiment. If we were going off from his vision he'd straighten us out. Steve never mentioned parts 2 and 3 to me for a while.
The shoot stretched out to almost 2 years of filming. How difficult as an actor was it working on such a long production?
Oh Christ, that was nightmare. Continuity went out the window and every so often I 'd get this call from out of the blue saying, "We need you this weekend." I had to miss a lot of other jobs because of the obvious: time and money. That sucked big time. We had to get the shots and a lot of times we were fighting against weather, locations and everyone's schedule. As an actor, I'm out there everyday looking for work and when it comes in I can't really let it pass by. Let's just say that there were very challenging times.
Were there any particular sequences that were difficult to shoot?
Because of the time of year we were shooting in it got very cold at night. There were days/nights where we were doing 15-18 hour days. By the time we'd wrap you'd by frozen to bone-literally. I'd close my eyes and then there would be a knock on my door saying, "WAKE UP!" Another challenging sequence was when I would be driving with Marilyn late at night. We were shooting in the boonies and there were no streets lights... anywhere! On the hood of the car was a big camera, I had kino flo lights tapped underneath the dash blinding me, no clue as to how fast I'm going 'cause I can't see the speedometer, couldn't see the road - I couldn't see a frickin' thing!! Oh yeah, I also had to do the scene as well. I wasn't big on laying in the body bag either! That was the real thing - smelled terrible.
What would you consider one of your favorite moments in the film? Both to film and to watch on screen?
You obviously spent a long period of time working with Stevan Mena on 'Malevolence'. What can you tell us about your working experience with him as a director?
You spent the majority of the film with the two female leads. (Lucky dog, you!) Tell us a bit about your working experiences with both Samantha Dark and Heather Magee? Is it true Heather had to give everyone a ride to the set?
Both the slaughterhouse and the house in the film were perfect for the story. Any odd occurrences happen while being around those particular locations?
Nothing really odd, but the authenticity was incredible. I'm still blown away that we found that slaughterhouse. The environment was helpful to me as an actor. You could feel the creepiness surrounding you.
What was it like to finally see the film with an audience in theaters?
You're a musician yourself. How pivotal is music for a film such as this, and how do you feel about the music Stevan wrote for his feature debut?
For a film like this, it's crucial. For horror films it's so important. The fact that Steve created it on his own in his bedroom through me for a loop when I found out. He's multi-talented and I think that's awesome he took the risk by doing it himself. As you said it's his debut & given the circumstances, he did one hell of a job.
You currently play in 2 bands 'Ill Rocket' and 'Progress'. Tell us about your musical background?
Your other foray into horror was an indie called 'Little Erin Merryweather'. Tell us a bit about that?
That was an interesting project. The antagonist is a female and she's very spooky. David Morwick sort of falls from the same tree as Steve in that they both wore many hats. The film is more story driven than full of gore. I did 'Merryweather' right after 'Malevolence'. I didn't plan it that way it just happened. We shot the film up in Boston. That too was a long trek. We'd shoot for a couple weeks and then every weekend I'd take the bus 5 hours up, 5 hours back. The film is in its final stages and will be released soon, I hope. So keep your eyes peeled.
You worked on a feature called 'Invisible Evidence' which was shot on location in Guatemala. What can you tell us about that experience?
One had to be really careful too. We had a tiny crew and I had to do my own stunts without padding or rehearsal. We were flying by the seat of our pants. Because I was still non-union at the time, they could work us as long as they wanted. I had 2 days were we shot for 22 hours. Our hotel was solar powered so sometimes there would be no hot water or electricity. It wasn't odd to have strange creatures crawling around your room. One night I had a scorpion on the ceiling above my bed. I'm glad I slept with my mouth closed that night. The most devastating thing was seeing the homeless children. That stayed with me for a while. When I returned to NYC my gratitude list went through the roof.
There was a lot of, "Remember how many times we did that!" It was kind of cool to be sitting there doing that because I never thought we'd get this far. I hoped we would, it still wigs me out. I felt happy and had a sense of accomplishment. Steve was kind enough to edit out some of the stupid and inappropriate things I was saying!!!
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